Skip to Content

10 ways to stop chickens getting bored

If chickens are kept in a run on a daily basis or they need to go into quarantine for some reason this can lead to them becoming bored which can lead to squabbling within the flock.

Many people are actually surprised to know that chickens need plenty of entertainment to stop them from getting bored, but this is actually a real problem where chickens have limited space and they can’t graze.

As a chicken owner myself, I know what it’s like to deal with a needy flock if they ever have to stay in for any reason, they will definitely let you know if they’re not happy!

So, in this post, I’ve put together 10 of the best ways chicken owners can make chickens daily life a little bit more interesting to stop them from getting bored.

1- Allow them free-range time

I’m putting free-range time first because it’s definitely the best way to stop chickens from getting bored.

I know that it’s not always possible to allow chickens to free-range due to space or potential predator threat, but even if you can let them have a wander around an hour or two your chickens will love you for it.

Free-ranging comes naturally to chickens and the fact they’re happy and eating nutritious natural food will show in the quality of their eggs.

Chickens will happily graze in any area providing they can scratch and it’s safe for them to be out in the open.

If you’re worried about predators then a period of supervised grazing each day is a good way to get around this issue.

2- Let them scratch in a newly dug soil

If you’ve been doing some weeding or digging in your flower beds then your chickens will have hours of fun scratching in the newly dug soil.

Digging over the soil will unearth all kinds of chicken treats and especially worms which are amongst their most favourite foods.

Chickens possess strong feet, making them quite useful in the garden for tasks like aerating soil and removing small weeds.

However, a drawback of allowing them in your flower beds is their tendency to scratch up and damage delicate plants and flowers. Therefore, it’s wise to keep them away from any fragile vegetation you wouldn’t want to risk losing.

3- Make treats harder to get

Chickens love treats and will go to any length to get them, by making them harder to get to will keep them busy for longer.

There are all sorts of ingenious ways to make chickens harder to get, we like to scatter our chickens favourite treat of corn and grain into long grass where they can scratch and forage for it.

You can also buy treat feeders and peck toys which help to keep chickens while they’re in their run. If you’re looking for some inspiration on treat toys, we like the following, which are all available from Omlet:

Omlet peck toy

The Omlet peck toy is available to either hang or it can be attached to a flexible pole which goes into the ground. The peck toy works on a slow-release basis which keeps chickens busy and rewards them with the treat of your choice.

Image of the Omlet peck toy
Image credit (permission given)
Shop Omlet Peck Toys

Omlet Caddi treat holder

The Caddi Treat Holder is a hanging treat feeder which can be filled with larger treats such as green veg leaves, sweetcorn or treat balls which you can buy for chickens. Great for keeping chickens occupied for some time.

Image credit (permission given)
Shop the Caddi Chicken Treat Holder

4- Let them scratch in garden clippings

Chickens love to scratch through anything lose which could hide tasty insects or other treats which they enjoy eating.

If you’re doing some gardening and you have loose clippings your chickens will have hours of fun scratching through them with their feet.

Once they’re finished it’s a good idea to remove the clippings before they start to rot. Many gardeners compost their garden waste along with their chicken manure which is nitrogen-rich and great for the garden once it’s had time to mellow.

Chickens are pretty sensible when it comes to not eating plants that could be poisonous, but if you’re worried about any plants growing in your garden, you might find the following article useful:

What not to feed chickens – the ultimate guide

image of grass cuttings

5- Give them toys

Believe it or not, chickens will actually play with toys if you put them in their run area. Chickens are very inquisitive and will peck at and explore various items which will help to keep them busy while they’re enclosed inside a run.

Here are some ideas you can use to turn items you might have around the house into exciting toys for chickens:

  • Mirrors – chickens will spend time looking into and pecking at mirrors when they see their reflection.
  • Old CD’s or DVD’s – like mirrors, they will peck at shiny discs if you hang them up inside their run.
  • Hang up small musical instruments – such as maracas, xylophones or tambourines.

6- Spend time with them

Most chickens love to be around people and if they’re used to seeing you they’ll enjoy being around you while you work or relax outside.

Spending a bit of time with your chickens will not only help to get them used to you, but it will keep them occupied too.

As well as being social, chickens are very vocal animals and once you spend any kind of time with them you’ll get to know their distinctive chatter and mannerisms.

Some chicken keepers actually put a seat in the chicken run to relax along with their birds, others even invite them inside their homes. I’m not sure I could cope with the mess, but there are reports of toilet trained chickens!

However you choose to interact with your birds they will enjoy any time you spend with them especially if you arrive with treats.

7- Install a swing

Chickens love to sit in elevated positions and just like a caged budgie they will enjoy perching on a swing in the sun to relax or have a good preen.

We recommend the Chicken Swing which is available from Omlet, this swing can be attached to any type of frame or chicken run mesh and can be adjusted to the right hight for your chickens.

Image credit (permission given)

8- Use planting

If you’re short on space in your garden for chickens to free-range, then using planting in the areas where they do spend time is a good way to keep them occupied while making the area look nice too.

Sturdy plants and shrubs are not only great for providing shelter for chickens they’re also good for providing a habitat for insects, snails and other living treats which chickens love to graze for.

Our chickens love to graze in leaf litter which gathers under hedges and trees, snails are one of the top food sources in these habitats and these are a great boredom buster because they spend time pecking at them to get them out of the shell.

There is also some evidence that certain herbs such as oregano and thyme provide some natural health benefits for chickens and fresh mint is said to prevent mites.

Again, any plants which chickens can graze around need to be strong enough to withstand their powerful feet as they scratch, or they will easily unearth then as they dig.

This article was first published on December 8, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets.

9- Make use of unwanted items

Making an interesting environment for chickens doesn’t have to cost money and they will happily make use of items which you no longer need.

If you have a large chicken shed or run area, old items of furniture can create the perfect perch or cosy nest box.

Here are some ideas on how to re-use items from the home which you no longer want or need to add some interest to their living space:

  • Old chairs and stools – chickens love to sit in an elevated position and will happily perch on a chair.
  • Unwanted drawers/chest of drawers – leave one or two of the drawers open and fill with some cosy bedding.
  • Old ladders or shelves – chickens will enjoy perching on these if you have space.
Image of a chicken on a chair

10- Move the chicken run to a new patch or refresh the flooring

When a chicken run and coop is on the same patch of land for a length of time the ground will become baron and muddy.

When the ground gets like this, there’s less for chickens to do because there’s no surface to scratch through and foraging opportunities will be limited.

So, a good way to make grazing within the run a bit more interesting is to either move the run onto fresh ground if possible or by refreshing the ground covering.

If you have a movable run, then moving it should be pretty easy and if you have enough ground to go at regularly moving it around will not only create interest for the chickens, but it will help the ground to recover too.

If there’s an option of the type of ground you can move your run to, long wild grass is especially good for keeping chickens occupied. Our chickens always make a bee-line for longer grass when it comes to grazing because there tends to be more lurking in there.

When moving the run isn’t an option, a good way to make the environment more interesting is adding a new floor covering such as wood chippings or shavings which are pet safe.

By adding a new surface, this gives the chickens something to scratch through instead of just having bare earth.

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on December 8, 2020.

Related artilces

I hope this post can help you to keep your chickens well entertained! You might also find the following post helpful to get to know more about chicken behaviour:

How do you know when a chicken is happy?

What are the red things on chickens called?

Do chickens have nipples?

How to introduce chickens without the drama

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on December 8, 2020.

Do Chickens Eat Slugs?